UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LINKS
From: Hong Kong, 1987
There's a strange hush at St. Stephen's
as we wait for them to storm the College.
Nurses drift like butterflies among the injured,
offering a word, a touch, a cigarette.
When the enemy bursts through the door
I'm lying on a cot at the far end of the corridor,
my head bandaged, my leg supported in a sling.
Two soldiers proceed to bayonet the sick and wounded
in their beds, to a chorus of screams and protests.
A nurse throws herself on top of one of our boys
to protect him—it might have been the kid
from Queen's—and they are both killed
by a single thrust of the bayonet.
I suppose they were sweethearts. Pinned
at last, she does not struggle. Her hands
open and close once, like tiny wings,
and the dark stain on her white, starched uniform
spreads like a chrysanthemum, a blood-red sun.
I cut the cord supporting my leg, slip on
the nearest smock and stand foolishly at attention,
making the salute. My right index-finger
brushes the damp cotton of the bandage.
Later, the butchers are shot by their own officers;
one, apparently, had lost a brother
in the final assault.
Gary Geddes's works copyright © to the author.